History paints her as the first female serial killer…
Locusta is the daughter of a winemaker in the Roman province of Gaul. She enjoys the indulged childhood of the elite, her concerns only about the day’s amusements. She rides gentle ponies, attends parties, reads Ovid, and learns the herbal arts from her servant. But the day after meeting her betrothed, Locusta discovers the consequences of possessing such dangerous knowledge.
Ordered to leave her pastoral life, Locusta is thrust into a world of intrigue, scandal, and murder—where treason lurks behind every corner and defying an emperor means death. Locusta’s life changes forever when a young Emperor Nero requires her herbal expertise. And commands her to be his personal poisoner. Caught in an imperial web, Locusta must embrace her profession or die.
Or is there another way out?
History paints her as the first female serial killer. Or is she yet another maligned woman in history?
My Review (Contains Spoliers)
I reviewed the Dragon Lady by Autumn Bardot, which is an excellent historical novel based in the South-China Sea. This is a novel you should get, and it is a pleasure for me to be reviewing another novel of hers again. Buy this book NOW! This novel contains sexual violence.
Ultimately, this novel is about silent violence, sexual violence, the murky and misery of Roman politics. But it is also about the loss and misery of goodness. Corruption has become the ultimate winner in this novel under Nero’s reign. Corruption of power in a ruthless empire causes people with good nature to turn into the worst monsters unimaginable.
This novel had me seeing how a young innocent girl from Gaul was tainted by the corrupted politics of Rome. No one ever sees themselves as the villain. The villain isn’t someone you want to be. Where in any story does the villain benefit? The villain may be rich, but happiness is fleeting. Even if you are a hero, there is not much you can do. Too much good and too much bad is neither welcome, for a balance is needed. This novel showed the maturity of Locusta.
Some minor nitpicks that I found was more telling than showing, but that’s one nitpick of mine. I would have wanted to be seen more scenes displaying Locusta’s development from turning from a humble girl into the madness that depicts her as she carries out the murky depths of her infamous secret. More scenes would have helped. When I compare this to Dragon Lady, the Pirate Queen had a lot more development as we saw everything and how as she became Queen began to dismiss the feelings of others. That being said, Lucius was an absolute bastard of the highest kind. No words of happiness for him.
You cannot help but feel sadness as Locusta loses herself, her soul, and the ones she values the most. The amount of loss is unimaginable on the scale before. I have covered Nero before in one of my book reviews, though I understand the author’s intentions of going for a more volatile approach. Nero was insane by the time of his rule, but that didn’t rule out his competence. The problem was, many of these rumors were written when he was removed from power. So we will never get a true picture of what the politicians thought of him, but to say his sexual scandals were off the rooftop is no understatement. His wives suffered a lot, especially because it reminded me of Henry VIII of England who was smart and ambitious at the start, but then ended up removing his wives one by one. Nero had some competence in administration because Henry didn’t.
Marcus is also a great character, but I would have wanted to see more of him. How he kept in touch with Locusta more often. Their attraction is clear from the start to each other. I thought this was great chemistry! We also saw that Locusta leaped into the murky depths of her dark secret, Nero became madder. I guess when you’re the Emperor of the world, and you hold dominion over everyone, it is hard to resist the tentacles of corruption.
The Prose? Check
The Writing Style? Check
The dialogue? Check
My rating: 5.5
BUY THIS NOVEL NOW! It’s a spellbinding novel that’ll have you disagreeing with the character, holding your tears back, and make you feel both love and loss together.